Family Story

April 17th, 2019

4-AZ

THE FOUR OF US: Patty, Mary, Joe and Pete (1929)

When this picture was taken we lived in Phoenix. A few months after I entered the first grade at the Capital School, I had the measles and the other three caught them from me. The illness caused Pete to contract double pneumonia again. The house on Willow I remember very well; I can even draw the floor plan after all these years. (It’s not the house in the picture, that one is across the street.)

A TRIP INTO THE PAST

Shall I talk of the present or the past and which is which. The History Detectives on PBS can take a picture, document or gun and find its story. In January, 2006, I set out to find my past and  it seems I brought those who were long dead back to life.

GazildaGazilda's house
Gazilda Gamble Hernan                                          720 North Ninth Avenue

I took a picture of Grandma Gazilda’s house at 720 North Ninth Avenue. Today it’s pink but if I print the picture in black and white it will almost look like gray stucco of 1926 where I stayed with Grandma when Mama was in the sanatorium with Tuberculosis. Aunt Martha and Aunt Florence entertained me. I think my Dad lived there too and when he came in he would scoop me up and lift me high to reach the ceiling. My baby brother John stayed with Grace, another aunt.

Later when Mama was well, she came home and we lived as a family at 826 North Ninth Avenue.  We were all together, Mama, Daddy, Me and Joe. Soon another little baby Peter. Mama and I were strangers. Looking back I think that Mama tried really hard to make contact with me, but being confused by her abandonment, I kept myself apart. Every day I waited for my Daddy to come home from work.

I took a picture of the house. A neighbor said that the shabby neighborhood will be reborn when a University builds nearby. Looking past the gravel that used to be a lawn I could see a little girl waiting on the porch for her Dad to come walking up the street in the late afternoon. In the mornings she would skip down the sidewalk one and a half blocks where her grandmother was waiting on the corner.  It was hard for her to remember to look both ways before crossing.

PLAZA, AJO, ARIZONA

PLAZA, AJO ARIZONA

Recently I visited the town where I was born. I took pictures of the Plaza. Standing under arches, watching shadows stretch across the walk, it’s not possible that I remember this place and yet I know –it’s where I took some of my first baby steps The arches led to the station where trains arrived with business men or politicians or guests for parties in Isabella Greenway’s big house on the hill. On some days when we watched the trains we would count the cars as they went out loaded with copper ore.

One day when the train arrived, the station was draped in black. Daddy was among the mourners standing at attention as the coffin of General Greenway was carried up the long road to be buried on a knoll overlooking the giant crater of the mine. Mama held my hand as she wept. My baby brother was asleep in his carriage.

This part is not my memory but this is how I try to put together pieces of that time. As an old woman, I stood there looking at the Plaza, trying to understand why this space seemed so important to me.

Everything in this Website ©Patricia Grube